The Official City Spiel

Is North Lauderdale the"City of Tomorrow"? Is Wilton Manors the "Island City"? A lesson in city seals as salesmanship.

For possibly the best example of a logo based on a "romantic interpretation," take a look at the municipal seal of the county's newest city, Weston. Within a stylized frame of sawgrass and egrets, the Weston logo presents a gorgeous view of the setting sun descending into a pristine swamp. There's not a building or parking lot in sight -- no hint that Weston's very existence might represent to some an example of the destruction of the same swamp so reverentially depicted in the town's logo.

Weston City Commissioner Mark L. Myers -- the man who designed the logo -- disagrees with this view. "No! No! It's just the opposite!" he barks. "It shows we're taking care of the wetlands!" Myers has a point; it's difficult to imagine Arvida, the development company that created Weston and approved this very logo, signing off on anything that smacked of negativity. (Point of trivia: Weston's is the only Broward municipal logo that contains the artist's initials hidden somewhere within -- a signature a la Hirschfeld. Look in the sawgrass.)

And in truth, when it comes to negativity, Weston couldn't begin to compare with Sea Ranch Lakes. There are no words in the logo of this gated community with a population of 619. No waving palm trees. No shining sunbeams. No leaping dolphins. Just a pair of forbidding brick gateposts standing side by side in the foreground, like two soldiers standing at attention, with a double fence line receding into the distance from each side.

Here, finally, is a logo that is the distilled essence of unambiguity, a logo that presents to the viewer a clear, simple, true message: "Do we know you?"

"There's gates here," shrugs city clerk Joan Case from her city hall office at 1 Gatehouse Rd. "You can't get into the village unless you go through the gates." No apology from her.

And no dithering either. Sea Ranch Lakes' gated self-confidence stands in stark contrast to the identity crisis at Dania Beach, where the game of dueling logos proceeds apace.

To City Manager Smith, the original seal (the one you can't see) "represents two particular industries that aren't necessarily central to what the city has to offer anymore." The seal touts jai alai and antiques as two major civic symbols, "and there's more to the city than just jai alai and antiques."

But... leaping dolphins? Starfish?
"The logo on the trucks could belong to any town in South Florida -- any town in Florida, for that matter," complains Mikes, who promises not to drop the matter until the art student's handiwork has been banished. Taking a radically different approach than some other local leaders, Mikes advocates "something with some meaning to this city -- something with some relevance."

Contact Paul Belden at his e-mail address:

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